The Ouroboros in My Mind

WARNING: brief language

This morning I experienced a mental ouroboros.

For those not familiar with an ouroboros, it is a Greek word for a serpent or dragon eating its own tail.

Snakes sometimes do this, as you can see in the picture above. As I Fucking Love Science explains here, “If snakes get too hot, they can become confused and disoriented. They also get a ramped-up metabolism, causing them to have a false sense of hunger and a desire to eat the first thing they see. As captive snakes typically live alone and food isn’t routinely consistently available to them, they end up attacking themselves.”

This morning my brain got confused and began to attack itself. I felt like I had done the wrong thing by making my breakfast before I made my coffee. Then I felt like I was doing the wrong thing by eating my breakfast while my wife made my coffee. Then I felt like I was doing the wrong thing for feeling bad about doing the wrong thing, which spiraled into my mind feeding upon itself with a constant barrage of negative self-talk.

You’re worthless.

You’re useless.

You’re pointless.

Everyone hates you.

It’s a good thing you never go anywhere or do anything.

You don’t deserve anything.

On and on my brain fed itself on these lines and I felt worse and worse about it, until I finally decided to go take a nap.

The nap helped immensely to relax my brain enough to where it let go of itself and I could slowly begin to ease it back to normal.

First, I distracted it with computer gaming.

Then, a friend of mine and I teamed together for a while and we talked on Skype.

Finally, I did something around the house that made me feel like I had accomplished something.

And then, with my brain sufficiently distracted from itself, I started to feed it something different.

You’re worthwhile.

You’re useful.

A lot of people love you and care about you.

It would be a good thing to do something outside the house this evening, preferably with friends.

You deserve to be happy.

And my brain, while not entirely comfortable with the concepts it’s being fed, is accepting them and processing them. It has something positive to feed on instead of the negative it was feeding itself. And that’s an improvement over the destructive cycle of this morning.

I feel better about myself. I’m not kicking myself anymore. I’m optimistic about my day again.

And my mental ouroboros, having cooled down, is no longer confused or disoriented, and isn’t wanting to eat the first thing it finds. It’s back to normal.

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